Saturday, April 30, 2011

Prospects Showcased at USHL Combine

Press Release

While there is still hockey to be played in the USHL Clark Cup Playoffs, teams have already begun preparations for next season. One of the steps in the building process for the future is the 2011 USHL Prospect Combines being conducted at the Arctic Ice Arena in suburban Chicago.

This weekend marks the second of three combines being put on this spring and summer by USHL Player Development. Players from the 1995 birth year age group were part of the first combine two weeks ago in preparation for the 2011 USHL Futures Draft. Later this summer, the USHL will take a look at another group of future players with an August combine for the 1996 and 1997 birth years.

More than 250 hockey prospects are showcasing their skills this weekend at the USHL Prospect Combine being held for the 1993 and 1994 birth year age groups. USHL Player Development is in its second season of conducting these first of their kind events. Not only do top hockey players take to the ice for game competition, they are put through a series of off-ice testing and training drills. The players will also take part in educational presentations to learn more about off-ice training and nutrition as well as learn more about the overall life of a USHL player.

Representatives from each USHL Member Club are on hand to evaluate this collection of talent as it is a group of players that are eligible for the upcoming 2011 USHL Entry Draft on May 16th. Scouts, coaches, and general managers are looking for players that have the ability to compete for roster spots for the 2011-12 USHL season.

It is a busy weekend for the prospects as they are competing in five games over the course of three days in addition to two off-ice testing sessions.

(Nathan can be reached at

Colgate University Goalie commits to the Bulldogs

Press Release

The Alberni Valley Bulldogs would like to announce that 91 Goalie Max Fenkell has committed for the 2011-2012 season.

Fenkell, born in Philadelphia played last season for Colgate University of the ECAC. The 5’9”, 170 pound goalie spent the whole 2010-2011 season in the Colgate University program.
Previous to that, Fenkell had two stellar seasons in the New England prep school league at Phillips Exeter (N.H.) Academy. Fenkell won 45 games at Exeter and set an all-time record at the school with a .933 save percentage. During his junior season, Max backstopped the Big Red to 28 victories and an appearance in the New England Division I prep championship game. He topped New England with a .940 save percentage that year and set team single-season records for minutes played, shots, saves, goals against average and save percentage.

“We are very excited to have Max. He has had a taste of the next level spending the whole year at Colgate. Even though he didn’t see game action, he has been able to improve through practice”, states Bulldogs Head Coach/Assistant Director of Hockey Operations Paul Esdale. “Max’s situation is unique, it allows him to come back to junior and not lose a year of eligibility. He will be a solid addition to the team,” said Esdale.

Colgate University plays in the competitive ECAC of the NCAA and made it to the final four of the ECAC tournament this past season.

"Max Fenkell has huge potential. His work ethic and drive help make him one of the most committed goalies we have had in our program in some time. The fact that he is playing behind two seniors prompted this move which we fully support. We expect that he will help the Bulldogs challenge for a championship in the BCHL while at the same time aid in his development prior to his return to Colgate," states Head Coach of Colgate University Don Vaughan.

(Nathan can be reached at

Troy Ryan Named Head Coach of STU Tommies Men's Hockey Team

Press Release

St. Thomas University has named Troy Ryan head coach of the men’s hockey team. The appointment follows a national search that was conducted by administrators, former players, hockey executives, and alumni of the university. Ryan will begin his new position on May 2.

“Troy is an experienced, high-level coach with a record of success over the past decade,” said Athletics Director Mike Eagles. “He has a very attractive combination of club team and international experience - both as a coach and a manager - and he has been successful behind the bench, in the front office and with the community supporting his teams.”

Eagles said that the hiring committee was struck by Ryan’s experience, technical knowledge and commitment to building winning programs. “He has excelled at setting and meeting goals for his teams, and he has advanced his programs by attracting and developing players that fit with the values of his teams.”

“I am excited about the opportunity and challenges that come with this position. I plan to work closely with Mike and my staff to create an excellent student-athlete environment for my players,” said Ryan. “I am pleased to be making the move to Fredericton and being part of the St. Thomas University family. STU hockey will be very active in the community as we look to grow this program both on and off the ice.”

Ryan has experience as head coach and an executive. He has been the president, general manager and head coach of the Metro Marauders of the Maritime Hockey League where he was responsible for daily operations of the Dartmouth-based team, including recruiting and developing players. As coach, he was responsible for the technical, tactical, physical and psychological preparation of the team. Prior to leading the Marauders, he held the same position with the Pictou County Weeks Crushers and the Antigonish Bulldogs, and he was assistant coach of the Acadia Axemen of the Atlantic University Sport.

His international experience is extensive as he has participated in seven consecutive world championship events (five world junior A and two world under-17). He was most recently general manager of Team Canada East for the World Junior A Championship. In that capacity, he restructured the selection process, managed a staff of eight and organized the regional and main training camps. When he was assistant general manager and coach for the same team, he was responsible for scouting, technical-package creation and video breakdown and analysis. He has also been head coach of Team Atlantic at the World Under-17 Championships and he was the Team Nova Scotia Canada Winter Games head coach and assistant coach.

Ryan played with the St. Mary’s Huskies and the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds of the Atlantic University Sport. As a coach, he holds the high performance level I coaching certification, and he has held successive positions with Hockey Nova Scotia’s high performance coaching program. He has been a World Junior Training Camp coach on two occasions, and was named Hockey Nova Scotia coach of the year once and Maritime Junior A coach of the year twice. He has also been very active in the communities where he coached and he was selected volunteer of the year by Nova Scotia Tourism.

The search committee was made up of Vice President of Finance and Administration Lawrence Durling, Athletics Director Mike Eagles, graduating player Jason Cassidy, former STU Tommie and Vancouver Canuck director of player personnel Eric Crawford, alumnus Peter Gulliver, Colorado Avalanche pro scout Garth Joy, former Tommies head coach and current Buffalo Sabres scout Al MacAdam and Harold DeCourcey, a representative of the Friends of STU Tommies Hockey. It was established by St. Thomas University President Dennis Cochrane following the decision to separate the positions of men’s hockey coach and athletics director.

(Nathan can be reached at

Friday, April 29, 2011

Capitals announce new majority owner

Press Release

Offseason moves for the Cowichan Valley Capitals continue with the club now announcing a new majority owner.

Stew Gordon, who became a partial owner at the start of last season, has acquired a majority share of the club after his purchase agreement was approved by the BCHL.

Gordon, 50, is involved in the construction business as owner of Gordon N'gordon Interiors and is a Vancouver Island native having grown up in the Victoria suburb of Langford. He is also the owner of the Junior B Kerry Park Islanders of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.

Owning a Junior A club is something Gordon has had his eye on for a long time.

"I've been a minority owner (with the Capitals) for over a year and there was an opportunity for majority ownership," said Gordon. "I've been involved as a sponsor before (but) I've been wanting this for about five years."

Gordon is looking forward to helping the Caps, along with new coaching staff member Jim Ingram, qualify for the postseason once again and is excited to get involved with the local community.

"Of course (my goal), is to make the playoffs and push as many kids to the NCAA as possible," said Gordon. "Now we've got Jim Ingram on board and we've got good coaches.

"The people of Duncan are awesome; it's a great area."

(Nathan can be reached at

Mustangs' Chasteen tenders with NAHL's Wildcats

Press Release

The Peoria Mustangs have announced that forward Nathan Chasteen has signed a tender with the Wichita Falls Wildcats of the North American Hockey League (NAHL).

Chasteen, a 16-year-old from Peoria, Ill., led the Mustangs in scoring this past season (tied for 11th in NA3HL scoring) with 56 points on 30 goals in 44 regular-season games.

(Nathan can be reached at

Pieri to Suit Up for Union College

Press Release

We are excited to announce that Midget Major goalie Dillion Pieri has accepted a spot on the Union College Hockey Team and will enroll as a student athlete starting this September. Union College had an opening when their starting goalie signed with the NJ Devils.

"There was an opportunity presented to me recently to be a part of the Union Hockey Program and I happily accepted" Pieri noted. "Being part of the program that the Union coaching staff has built is extremely rewarding and exciting. Its a great situation to be a part of such a quality program while being able to take advantage of a terrific education."

Dillion played split season for a few years prior to joining the Midget Major team this past season. He finished the season with a 13-12-6 record w/ a 3.10 gaa and a .907 save percentage. Goaltending was one of the highlights of the season and Dillion was a huge part of that. He won a few big games for the team and kept them in just about all of them.

Head Coach Joe Lovell had this to say, "Dil was great for us this season. He is a good goalie, smart kid and a very good person. We are excited for him. This is an exciting opportunity for him, he will have to work hard to earn everything he gets but he is open to the challenge. He worked hard to be in this position. Congrats!"

"The entire Advantage staff has been supportive of me trying to find a place where I can reach my dream of playing DI hockey and get a great education. They worked hard to put me in a position to succeed and expose me to all the colleges I asked them to play infront of. The strength of schedule we played was second to none and playing in the Tier I Elite Hockey League was phenomenal."

Pieri (Union) joins Pecararo (Maine), Cloonan (Maine), Nickerson (Dartmouth), McManus (Manhattaville), Brewer (Trinity), Mathieu (Suffolk), Colomey (St Anselm ) and Driscoll (Babson) to make their college choices this season with the Advantage's Tier I Elite Hockey League Midget program.

(Nathan can be reached at

Thursday, April 28, 2011

OHL Announces Rogers Championship Series Schedule

Press Release

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced the schedule for the Rogers OHL Championship Series for the Robertson Cup featuring the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors and the Owen Sound Attack.

The puck drops on the 2011 Rogers OHL Championship Series on Tuesday May 3, at 7:00 pm at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga with continued post-season coverage available on Rogers TV and the OHL Action Pak.

"This year with the OHL Action Pak, Rogers TV viewers have been able to watch more than 600 OHL hockey games," said Phil Lind, Vice Chairman, Rogers Communications Inc. "As fans, we've watched some incredible hockey this season and as a company, we're excited to present the Championship series which promises even more."

The Majors captured their first Bobby Orr Trophy as Eastern Conference Champions with a 4-1 series win over the Niagara IceDogs and advance to the Rogers OHL Championship Series for the first time since 1962 when they competed as the St. Michael’s College Majors. The Attack also captured their first Western Conference Championship title earning the Wayne Gretzky Trophy and will be the first Owen Sound based team to ever compete for the Robertson Cup. The Guelph Platers, who relocated to Owen Sound in 1989, last appeared in the OHL Finals and captured the title in 1986.

Associate sponsors for the Rogers OHL Championship Series are All Weather Windows and Subway, with Affiliate Sponsors Old Dutch, Jack Link’s, Chrysler, Kal Tire, Painter’s Mate Green, and Husky.

Series “H” – Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (1) vs. Owen Sound Attack (1):

Game 1 – Tuesday May 3 at 7:00 pm at Mississauga

Game 2 - Thursday May 5 at 7:00 pm at Owen Sound

Game 3 – Friday May 6 at 7:30 pm at Mississauga

Game 4 – Sunday May 8 at 4:30 pm at Owen Sound

Game 5 – Tuesday May 10 at 7:00 pm at Mississauga*

Game 6 – Thursday May 12 at 7:00 pm at Owen Sound*

Game 7 – Sunday May 15 at 2:00 pm at Mississauga*

*if necessary

(Nathan can be reached at

Queen City's Leon named Most Valuable Player

Press Release

The North American 3 Hockey League (NA3HL) has announced its Most Valuable Player, Forward of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year and Organization of the Year, along with its All-NA3HL Team and All-Rookie Team, for the 2010-11 season as voted by the league’s coaches and general managers.

Queen City Steam goaltender Matt Leon has been named Most Valuable Player.

Leon, a 19-year-old from Pineville, N.C., forged an 18-15-1 record in 35 regular-season appearances to compliment a 2.73 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage.

In the postseason, Leon put together a 4-1 mark to lead the Steam to a USA Hockey Tier III Junior A National Tournament berth.

“Matt’s a young man who shows what hard work and determination can do,” said Steam head coach Don Biggs. “There was never a day he didn’t want to be in the net working on his game.”

Leon was also named Goaltender of the Year and to the All-NA3HL Team.

“He really was the difference all year for us as a team,” Biggs added. “He gave us a chance to win every game he played and always seemed to make that big save at exactly the right time.”

The Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins’ Charles Williams was named Forward of the Year. The 19-year-old from Pittsburgh ranked second in NA3HL scoring with 80 points on 38 goals in 44 regular-season games. Williams was also named to the All-NA3HL Team.

Jerry Rank of the Quad City Jr. Flames was named Defenseman of the Year. A 21-year-old from Tomah, Wis., Rank totaled 26 points on seven goals in 44 regular-season games. Rank was also named to the All-NA3HL Team.

The Jr. Penguins’ Jayson Angus was named Rookie of the Year. The 18-year-old from Latrobe, Pa., won the NA3HL’s regular-season scoring title with 82 points (43 goals) in 45 games. Angus was also named to the All-Rookie Team.

Biggs was named Coach of the Year. In addition to guiding the Steam to a 24-18-2 mark in the regular season, Biggs led his team to a 4-2 record in the playoffs on its way to a Hurster Cup Finals appearance and a berth to USA Hockey’s Tier III Junior A National Tournament.

The Peoria Mustangs were named Organization of the Year.

All-NA3HL Team
Forward: Jayson Angus, Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins
Forward: Charles Williams, Pittsburgh Jr. Penguins
Forward: Alex Dobrezeniecki, Queen City Steam
Defenseman: Jerry Rank, Quad City Jr. Flames
Defenseman: Tanner Warner, Chicago Hitmen
Goaltender: Matt Leon, Queen City Steam

All-Rookie Team
Forward: Andy Lay, Flint Jr. Generals
Forward: Mason Riley, Peoria Mustangs
Forward: Mike Marconi, Toledo Cherokee
Defenseman: Nikolas Sakellaropoulos, Peoria Mustangs
Defenseman: William Quillman, St. Louis Jr. Blues
Goaltender: Mike Parda, Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks

(Nathan can be reached at

Finalists Announced for RBC CJHL Player of the Year

Press Release

This season, more than 3,000 players suited up for Junior A games across Canada, in locations from Nanaimo, B.C., to Woodstock, N.B. But only eight have been named as finalists for the RBC Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year award.

The finalists were selected by their respective CJHL leagues, with the winner - who will be announced during the 2011 RBC Cup in Camrose, Alta., and presented with his award at the tournament awards banquet on May 6 - chosen by a panel that includes Hockey Canada's five living Life Members: Don Johnson, Frank Libera, Frank McKinnon, Gordon Renwick and Clair Sudsbury.

'The winner will join a distinguished list of past honourees that includes current and former NHLers Kyle Turris (2007), Jeff Tambellini (2002), Dany Heatley (1999), Mike Comrie (1998), Paul Kariya (1992) and Greg Johnson (1989).

The 2011 nominees for RBC Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year are (in alphabetical order):


This year's recipient of the NOJHL Trophy as the league's best overall team player, Campbell used his hockey and leadership skills to make an impression not only on his team, but on his community as well. A stand-out high school player - he captained Central Algoma Secondary School to its first-ever Northern Ontario championship - Campbell has translated that success into success in the Junior A game, cracking the top 20 in NOJHL scoring this season.

Named one of the Beavers' alternate captains prior to the season, the Sault Ste. Marie product has led by example on the ice, finishing third in team scoring while becoming a force in all three zones. It's this end-to-end work that has earned Campbell the respect of coaches, teammates and fans in his second season in Blind River.

Campbell, who has had an NCAA scholarship in his sights since he was a pre-teen, hopes to enter university this fall with hopes of earning a degree in business and sports administration while taking his career as far as it can go on the ice.



A member of the LHJAAAQ All-Rookie Team and a finalist for the league's Rookie of the Year Award last season, Charette added to his résumé in 2010-11 by finishing second in league scoring with 98 points (including a league-leading 64 assists), earning a spot on the LHJAAAQ First All-Star Team and taking home the Player of the Year Award.

One of Longueuil's alternate captains, the 20-year-old from Gatineau, Que., is a quiet leader, choosing to lead by example on and off the ice, letting his 176 points in the last two seasons do the talking rather than being vocal on the ice and in the dressing room.

When he's not on the ice, Charette - Longueuil's third-round pick (42nd overall) in the 2008 LHJAAAQ Draft - spends his time working as carpenter with his father, and hopes to go back to school in September to advance his skills in that field.



The sniper on the SJHL's top-scoring trio, Eggum put up numbers not seen in Saskatchewan in almost a decade, becoming the first SJHLer to have a 50-goal, 100-point season since 2002, and scoring more goals - he finished with 58 - than any player in the league since 1999. Eggum tied with linemate Marc-Andre Carre for the scoring title with 106 points, a total that was a startling 165% increase over 2009-10, when he chipped in 40 points. In fact, in his first three SJHL seasons combined, Eggum managed 69 points, or 37 less than his 2010-11 total.

On his way to 58 goals in 58 games, Eggum almost reached one of hockey's most hallowed marks, getting his 50th goal in his 51st game, narrowly missing out on joining the exclusive 50-in-50 club. His numbers helped the Ice Wolves, the defending SJHL champions, earn the league's regular season title for the first time in franchise history.

An alternate captain with the Ice Wolves, Eggum has been a leader off the ice as well, working in local elementary schools and with community groups in La Ronge, where the Ice Wolves are beloved. He has also organized community events and helped the Ice Wolves interact with their supporters, organizing snowmobiling and ice fishing trips, among others.



Very few players get the chance to play their entire four-year Junior A in their hometown. Even fewer get the chance to wear the 'C' as captain and win a league championship. And fewer still get the opportunity to represent their country - twice. Fritz has done it all, and capped off a decorated career with the Grande Prairie Storm by earning AJHL MVP this year

Fourth in the AJHL in scoring, the Grande Prairie Minor Hockey Association product and two-time World Junior A Challenge silver medallist with Canada West (2008, 2009) set career highs in goals, assists and points this season, finishing atop the Storm's scoring chart for the first time in his four seasons.

A 2009 graduate of St. Joseph Catholic High School, Fritz took on a full course load at Grande Prairie Regional College in preparation for his enrollment this fall at Ohio State University, where he has accepted a scholarship to play the Buckeyes while majoring in business. In addition to education he has dedicated himself to his hometown, where he has taken part in numerous community programs and work with young students in local schools.



The Kings' puck-stopper re-wrote the BCHL record book in 2010-11, setting BCHL records for goals-against average (1.69) and save percentage (.934), while tying the record for shutouts (seven). Garteig also led the league in wins (38), was named BCHL Top Goaltender, was a Coastal Conference First Team All-Star and shared the Wally Forslund Memorial Trophy, given to the team with the lowest GAA, with back-up Sean Maguire.

His performance between the pipes helped Powell River win the BCHL's regular season title, set a franchise record for wins and sit, on more than one occasion, atop the CJHL national rankings, impressive accomplishments for a goaltender in his first full season as a starter.

Garteig has taken time out of his season to not only mentor Maguire, but work with the young goaltenders who skated with the Kings during practices throughout the season, as well as minor hockey goaltenders at all levels in Powell River. His strong play early in the season resulted in a scholarship offer from Quinnipiac University, where the Prince George, B.C., native will work towards a business degree in the fall, in addition to continuing his hockey career with the Bobcats.



The lone NHL draft pick to lace up the skates in the OJHL this season, Hyman showed the skills that made him a fifth-round selection of the Florida Panthers (123rd overall), finishing second in league scoring with 102 points in just 43 games, leading all Canadian Junior A players with 2.37 points per game. He missed games early in the season while attending the Panthers' rookie camp, and took two weeks out of the Red Wings' schedule to help Canada East to a silver medal at the 2010 World Junior A Challenge.

Hamilton's captain for the second year in a row, Hyman earned a spot on the North-West Conference First All-Star Team and was named the OJHL's Most Gentlemanly Player after picking up just 24 penalty minutes. During a stretch from October 30 to January 28, the Toronto native went 22 games without spending time in the penalty box.

Off the ice, Hyman is a published author - his first children's book, Hockey Hero, is available at bookstores in Toronto - and an 'A' student, graduating from high school as an Ontario Scholar. He will continue his on-ice career this fall at Princeton University, where he is deciding between studying business or medicine. He showed his dedication to education last fall, when he declined an invitation from the Panthers to play in an NHL exhibition game in order to maintain his NCAA eligibility.



Luke followed up a dream 2009-10 season by being just as good, if not better, in 2010-11, winning MJHL MVP in addition to his second consecutive league scoring championship, racking up 89 points (28 goals and a league-leading 61 assists) in 60 games. The 2010 RBC Cup MVP also got his name on the MJHL's Hockey Ability and Sportsmanship Award for the second year in a row while earning back-to-back berths on the league's First All-Star Team.

He also replaced the well-respected Steven Shamanski - last year's MJHL nominee for national player of the year - as Kings' captain and helped Dauphin avoid an RBC Cup hangover by leading the Kings to a second place finish in the Sherwood Division despite having just five players with more than one year of junior hockey experience.

Luke has been a community leader off the ice, taking time to visit Dauphin schools to read to students and giving his insight to new teammates, young and old, on what it means to be a King, play in Dauphin and be a part of the community. Luke has accepted a scholarship to Providence College beginning in September, and will take the ice for the Friars while majoring in business.



A two-time SIJHL Defenceman of the Year, Mitchell added the SIJHL Player of the Year Award to his trophy case this season, becoming the first Ice Dog to win the award in its 10-year history by cracking the 50-point barrier for the second season in a row despite missing a month of action due to injury. The 20-year-old finished his three-year Junior A career as the fifth-highest scoring defenceman in SIJHL history, impressive considering he managed just nine points in his rookie season.

Dryden's captain for the past two seasons, Mitchell has been a leader on and off the ice and has become a role model not only for the young players on the Ice Dogs, but for the minor hockey players in Dryden. He has consistently volunteered his time for community projects, going as far as to shave his head during the intermission of a game to help raise money for cancer research.

The Anola, Man., native has found a variety of ways to give back to the Dryden hockey community, stepping behind the bench with a Bantam team last season and working with players of all ages at the Dryden Hockey School for the past two summers.

(Nathan can be reached at

IceDogs' Mark Visentin Named OHL Goaltender of the Year

Press Release

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Mark Visentin of the Niagara IceDogs is the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year for the 2010-11 season.

Visentin posted a 30-9-2-4 record between the pipes for the IceDogs helping the club to their best regular season finish in franchise history with 96 points in the OHL’s Eastern Conference. In 46 games he carried the second-best goals-against-average with a mark of 2.52 while his .917 save percentage was the highest in the OHL this season. Visentin also earned four shutout victories which tied for second-most in the league. He becomes the second IceDogs’ goaltender to win the award following Michael Ouzas in 2004-05 who received the honour with the franchise based in Mississauga. He is also the second goaltender from a Niagara-based team to win the award following Manny Legace who won in 1992-93 with the Niagara Falls Thunder.

"It's an honour to receive this award considering all of the talented goaltenders in the league this year,” said Visentin. “I couldn't do it without the great players in front of me, the superb coaching staff, and the wonderful organization here in Niagara. It's also an honour to follow the footsteps of other great goaltenders who have won this award in the past."

Visentin, an 18-year-old from Waterdown, ON, has played three OHL seasons with the IceDogs who selected him in the third round of the 2008 OHL Priority Selection. In 44 starts this season he allowed two or less goals 21 times including five-straight games from February 3-13 in a stretch where he received OHL Player of the Week honours and was named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week twice. This season he competed as a member of Team OHL in the 2010 SUBWAY Super Series before being selected to represent Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo, NY, where he earned a silver medal. In April, Visentin signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Phoenix Coyotes who selected him with the 27 overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

“Mark was great for us all season,” said IceDogs Head Coach and General Manager Marty Williamson. “He is a tremendous worker and the backbone of our team. We are extremely proud of Mark and this award just goes to show that his hard work and dedication really paid off.”

The OHL Goaltender of the Year is awarded to the league's most outstanding goaltender as selected by OHL General Managers. Teams were not permitted to vote for a goaltender from their own hockey club. Goaltenders received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote and one point for a third place vote.

In a very close vote, Visentin received 63 points while JP Anderson of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors received 59 for second place. Petr Mrazek of the Ottawa 67’s finished in third place with 24 points.

The award was first presented in 1987-88 to Rick Tabaracci (Cornwall) with other notable winners including Ray Emery (Sault Ste. Marie 2001-02), Steve Mason (London 2006-07), and Mike Murphy of the Belleville Bulls who is the only goaltender to win the award twice in 2007-08 and 2008-09. The Majors’ Chris Carrozzi earned the award last season.

Visentin will be formally presented with the OHL’s Goaltender of the Year Award on Wednesday June 8 at the OHL Awards Ceremony held at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He is also the OHL’s nominee for the CHL Goaltender of the Year.

(Nathan can be reached at

Langley introduces Henderson brothers as new owners

Press Release

The British Columbia Hockey League is proud to announce brothers John and Roy Henderson as the new owners of the league’s Langley franchise.

John, 65, is a chartered accountant with the firm of Cinnamon, Jang, Willoughby & Company while Roy, 61, has a background in hockey scouting and is currently the president of Global Sports Scouting Services Inc.

The pair was recently approved by the BCHL board of governors and the league franchise committee after concluding a purchase agreement for the team.

“We have a hockey background and the reason we got involved is it’s another challenge in our lives,” said Roy, formerly a Philadelphia Flyers scout. “We really believe in the mission of the BCHL to send players on to the college level.”

The Hendersons listed forming a strong partnership with minor hockey in Langley and forging ties to sponsors and volunteers with the club as being their top priorities.

Chairman of the BCHL board of governors Darcy Rota expressed the league is pleased to have the Hendersons join as partners.

“On behalf of the board of governors, I’d like to welcome John and Roy into our league,” said Rota. “We’re excited to add their passion for Junior A hockey to the BCHL and I’m looking forward to hearing their ideas as new stakeholders in our league.”

The Hendersons take ownership of the club from the previous group which included Moray Keith, Heinz Hasselman, Harvey Smyl and Jim Bond.

(Nathan can be reached at

Sutter and Cyr Not Returning

Press Release

Regina, Saskatchewan – Regina Pats General Manager, Chad Lang announced today that the Pats will not renew the contracts of Assistant Coach Shaun Sutter and Goaltending Coach, Ryan Cyr for the upcoming season. The Pats missed the playoffs this season after finishing 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 23-39-7-3 mark in 2010-11.

"These decisions are always tough to make, with a number of factors to take into consideration, however after a lengthy review process we felt it was time to make a change.” Regina Pats General Manager Chad Lang continues, “I would like to thank Shaun and Ryan for the hard work they have provided the Regina Pats organization during their time with the team and wish the two of them the best in the future.”
The search to fill both of these positions will begin immediately.

(Nathan can be reached at

The Commandos confirm staff for 2011-12 season

Press Release

The Dieppe Commandos of the Maritimes Junior Hockey League announced today their coaching staff as well as a few new members of the board of directors. Jeff LeBlanc becomes head coach of the Commandos and will have Ken Therrien and Brian Fisher as assistants. Sébastien Dupuis will also return as goaltending coach.

The Commandos accumulated a record of 9-41-1-1 last season which was a rebuilding year with 14 rookies on the roster. This coming season will be a positive one and the organization expects to return to the playoffs and compete for the Kent Cup.

The Commandos also announced that Jean-François Damphousse will take on the role of General Manager. Alexandre Ménard will return as the assistant General Manager.

“We’re very happy with our hockey staff for the upcoming season. Our coaching staff will bring a lot of energy and we strongly believe in their knowledge and their abilities to get our team to a level of performance that our fans will be proud of,” said Jean-François Damphousse.

“Jeff has acquired a lot of experience in the past few years and he will do an excellent job leading our hockey team. Ken returns for a third season and we added Brian to our coaching staff. We have a lot of work to do over the summer to get to where we want to be but we ‘re all very excited about the up coming season.”

“The 2011 draft that we are hosting in June will soon arrive and we sure hope to find a few prospects there. It will be a very interesting training camp and we can’t wait to observe the level of competition right from day 1,” added Damphousse.

The Maritime Junior Hockey League draft will be held in Dieppe on Saturday June 18. The Commandos currently have 10 picks in the 10 round draft. The Commandos will also announce their territorial picks during the month of June.

The organization also announced that 3 new directors have been added to the board. Vickie Fisher, Lynn Fisher and Jim McDonald join the group and will contribute greatly to the success of the team. Jean-Luc LeBlanc, Daniel LeBlanc and Paul LeBlanc also return as directors of the Dieppe Commandos.

(Nathan can be reached at

Braves Announce Staffing Changes

Press Release

It is with great pleasure that the Brockville Braves announce the recent hiring of Todd Gill as Head Coach of the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League. The announcement of Gill's hiring took place today at a press conference at noon at the K-Rock Centre.

When the Gill family purchased the Brockville Braves organization in 2006, their goal was to operate the team in a professional manner, bring a winner to Brockville, and at the same time build Todd’s resume for coaching. He has been very fortunate to transfer his knowledge of the game as a player into teaching and has been very passionate about that. This opportunity presented itself very recently and, as a family, the Gills made the decision that Todd should not let the opportunity get away . It allows the family to stay in Brockville and this is very important to them. Todd will live at home but travel to Kingston and away for the Frontenac games, practices, and other commitments.

The Gill family will maintain full ownership of the Braves as they believe very strongly in the long range plan they set in 2006. They are very proud to be naming Jason Hawkins the General Manager/ Head Coach, and Jamie Mayo as an Assistant Coach and Director of Player Development. Joining the staff full time is Braves Alumni Matt Ward as an Assistant Coach. Matt played for the Braves from 2003-2006 and went on to play at Neumann College and then to the CHL and SPHL. Matt will be a welcome addition to the staff. Adam Gibson, also a Braves Alumni, is joining the club as the video coach. Adam lives locally and has a lot of valuable hockey experience as he played in the OHL, for Team Ontario, Team Canada, and UBC. Krista Gill will maintain her role as Business Manager and will be working very closely with Jason and his staff to build on the plan for a successful year, both on and off the ice. The goals set for the franchise have not changed.

(Nathan can be reached at

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Coleman Named USHL Player and Forward of the Year

Press Release

The United States Hockey League today announced that Blake Coleman of the Indiana Ice has been named both the 2010-11 USHL Player of the Year and the 2010-11 USHL Forward of the Year as determined by a vote of League coaches and general managers.

Coleman claimed the USHL scoring title as he led the League with 92 points (34g, 58a) while playing in all but one of the 60 regular season games for the Ice. It was the most points scored in a USHL season in over a decade – Peter Sejna had 94 points (41g, 53a) during the 1999-2000 season for the Des Moines Buccaneers. The last player to surpass 90 points was Thomas Vanek (46g, 45a) in 2001-02 for the Sioux Falls Stampede.

Coleman had 17 points than the next highest scorer in the League, teammate Daniil Tarasov (37g, 38a). It is the largest margin between first and second in the scoring race since Peter Sejna had 19 more points than Aaron Smith (33g, 42a) in 1999-2000. The 59 assists accumulated by Coleman are the most in a USHL season since another Indiana Ice player, John Kemp, recorded 59 during the 2007-08 season. Coleman also led the USHL with an impressive plus-52 rating, the highest rating on record since the USHL became Tier I in 2002.

The 19-year-old from Plano, Texas recorded 29 multi-point games this season, including twice having five-point games. His five assists on January 2nd vs. Waterloo were a League season high. Coleman had an eight-game point streak (6g, 8a) from November 24th to December 17th and also had two six-game point streaks during the season. He had points in 10 of his final 11 games of the regular season (9g, 14a) and posted a plus-19 rating during that stretch.

"What an extraordinary year for Blake," said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince. "Ninety-two points, and a plus-52 rating in a league with this much strength across all Member Clubs – that's just unheard of. Plano, Texas hasn't historically been hockey country – but it is now. Blake's leadership and hard work on and off the ice were the difference-maker for the Ice year, and no player in our league is a better representative of what the USHL stands for. Congratulations to our USHL Player of the Year."

The second USHL season for Coleman was a breakout year offensively after he collected 28 points (10g, 18a) in 58 games split between the Indiana Ice and Tri-City Storm in 2009-10. He will continue his hockey career next season at Miami University. Coleman was also listed #198 among North American skaters when NHL Central Scouting released its final rankings in advance of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

(Nathan can be reached at

Avalanche's Williams commits to AIC

Press Release

The Alaska Avalanche has announced that defenseman Jake Williams has committed to American International College (Atlantic Hockey) beginning in the fall.

Williams, a 20-year-old from Duluth, Minn., finished the regular season third in scoring among North American Hockey League (NAHL) defensemen with 47 points on five goals. He was also a plus-22.

“We’re very happy for Jake and his opportunity to attend and play hockey at AIC,” said Avalanche head coach Brian Huebel. “Over the last two years, Jake has been able to form his own identity as a hockey player and succeed in the NAHL through his hard work and perseverance.”

Williams competed in the first NAHL Top Prospects Tournament of the season in Massachusetts in December.

“AIC knows it’s not only getting a good hockey player, but also a fine young man," Huebel added. "We’re looking forward to watching his career at the Division I level over the next four years and wish him nothing but the best."

(Nathan can be reached at

Stars Goalie Commits to Lake Superior State

Press Release

Lincoln Stars goaltender Kevin Murdock has committed to play collegiate hockey at Lake Superior State University beginning next season.

Murdock compiled a 29-15-4 record this season for the Stars. The 29 victories were the second most in the USHL. He appeared in 52 games, played over 2,926 minutes, and made 1,388 saves – ranking third in all three categories among League goaltenders.

Murdock posted six straight wins from November 5th to November 19th which included two shutouts. He earned five total shutouts during the 2010-11 regular season. The 20-year-old from Bradenton, Florida put together a 9-2-0 record over his last 12 games of the season, helping the Stars earn a playoff berth.

It was the third USHL season for Murdock after spending two previous seasons with the Lincoln Stars (2007-09). He was selected to compete in the 2009 USHL All-Star Game and earned postseason honors with a spot on the 2008-09 All-USHL Second Team.

Lake Superior State University is located in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and is a member of the CCHA. Three USHL alumni – all three former Lincoln Stars – were on the roster for the Lakers during the 2010-11 season; Daniel Barczuk (Lincoln Stars/Ohio Jr. Blue Jackets/Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, 2005-08), Matt Bruneteau (Lincoln Stars, 2008-10), and Brian Mahoney-Wilson (Lincoln Stars, 2005-06).

(Nathan can be reached at

NAHL announces All-Division Teams

Press Release

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced its All-Central, -North, -South and -West Division Teams for the 2010-11 season, as selected by the league’s coaches and general managers.

All-Central Division Team
Forward: Zac Frischmon, Coulee Region Chill
Forward: Connor Gaarder, Coulee Region Chill
Forward: Nardo Naagtzaam, Alexandria Blizzard
Defenseman: Marian Fiala, Owatonna Express
Defenseman: Michael Pieper, Alexandria Blizzard
Goaltender: Ryan Faragher, Bismarck Bobcats

All-North Division Team
Forward: Chris Ciotti, St. Louis Bandits
Forward: Andrew Kolb, Michigan Warriors
Forward: Cody Wydo, Motor City Metal Jackets
Defenseman: Mike Monfredo, Motor City Metal Jackets
Defenseman: Travis White, Traverse City North Stars
Goaltender: Robert Tadazak, Michigan Warriors

All-South Division Team
Forward: Michael Hill, Topeka RoadRunners
Forward: Justin Hussar, Topeka Roadrunners
Forward: Beau Walker, Corpus Christi IceRays
Defenseman: Ralfs Freibergs, Texas Tornado
Defenseman: Derek Hills, Amarillo Bulls
Goaltender: Nikifor Szczerba, Amarillo Bulls

All-West Division Team
Forward: Doug Beck, Kenai River Brown Bears
Forward: Jared Linnell, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Forward: JT Osborn, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Defenseman: Jack Callahan, Fairbanks Ice Dogs
Defenseman: Jake Williams, Alaska Avalanche
Goaltender: Brandon Jaeger, Wenatchee Wild

The All-NAHL Team, All-Rookie Team, Forward of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Goaltender of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Coach of the Year, General Manager of the Year and Organization of the Year, along with the Academic Achievement Award, Dick’s Sporting Goods Community Service Awards and Mark Messier Leadership Award winners, will be announced within the week.

(Nathan can be reached at

Winterhawks’ Mac Carruth Named Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week

Press Release

oronto, ON – The Canadian Hockey League today announced that Mac Carruth of the Portland Winterhawks is the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week for the week ending April 24 after posting a 1-1 record with a goals-against-average of 1.51 and save percentage of .962.

Carruth made 75 saves for the Winterhawks in the first two games of the Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship Series against the Spokane Chiefs. He opened the series with 41 saves on Friday night and was named second star despite the 2-1 loss then rebounded with 34 saves on Sunday as the first star of the 2-1 win over the Chiefs to even the series 1-1.

Carruth, a 19-year-old from Shorewood, Minnesota, is playing in his second WHL season with the Winterhawks. The Chicago Blackhawks prospect was selected in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft and has a playoff record of 9-3 with one shutout and a goals-against-average of 2.39 and a league-best save percentage of .934.

JP Anderson of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors and Louis Domingue of the Quebec Remparts were also considered. Anderson went 2-1 with a shutout victory posting a goals-against-average of 1.97 and save percentage of .929, while Domingue went 2-1 with a goals-against-average of 2.02 and save percentage of .929.

(Nathan can be reached at

Attack’s Garrett Wilson Named CHL Player of the Week

Press Release

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that Owen Sound Attack forward Garrett Wilson is the CHL Player of the Week for the week ending April 24 after scoring three goals and four assists for seven points in three games.

Wilson’s best game was played in Game three of the Rogers Western Conference Championship Series on Saturday night where he netted the game-tying and game-winning goals while adding an assist as first star of the 6-4 win over the Windsor Spitfires. In Game two action last Thursday, Wilson contributed an assist despite the 4-2 loss, and began the week last Tuesday with a goal and two assists in an 8-1 win over the Spitfires in Game one. The Attack currently lead the best-of-seven series 3-1.

Wilson, a 20-year-old from Elmvale, ON, is playing in his fourth OHL season. Selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Florida Panthers prospect is sixth in OHL playoff scoring with eight goals and nine assists for 17 points in 14 games.

Cody Eakin of the Swift Current Broncos and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault of the Quebec Remparts were also considered for the award. Eakin picked up two goals and two assists for four points in two games, while Audy-Marchessault scored twice and added four assists for six points in three games.

(Nathan can be reached at

Bobcats-Warriors play-in series schedule announced

Press Release

The North American Hockey League (NAHL) has announced the schedule for the best-of-three play-in series of the Robertson Cup Playoffs between the Central Division champion Bismarck Bobcats and North Division champion Michigan Warriors.

All games will be played at the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka, Kan., home of the Topeka RoadRunners and host of the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, which will be held from May 3-7.

Game 1 will be played on Thursday, April 28 and Game 2 will be played on Friday, April 29. Both games are scheduled for 7 p.m. Central time.

In the event the series is tied 1-1 after two games, a third mini-game will be played immediately following Game 2 to determine the winner, which will advance as the No. 3 seed to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.

“After exploring all of our options regarding where to host the play-in series, it was determined it was in the best interest of the participating players, from a travel perspective, to play the games in Topeka,” said NAHL commissioner Mark Frankenfeld. “This gives both teams plenty of rest leading up to the play-in series and, for the winner, time to prepare for the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.”

With a higher point total in the regular season - Michigan totaled 76 over Bismarck’s 67 - the Warriors will be the home team throughout the series.

The other three teams to advance to this year’s Robertson Cup Championship Tournament are the host RoadRunners, South Division champion Amarillo Bulls and West Division champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

Long Beach, NY- After a lengthy search, New York Apple Core has announced that Frank Bretti will assume head coaching duties during the 2011-12 season.

"On behalf of the NY Apple Core, I am proud to announce the hiring of Frank Bretti as the new EJHL Head Coach. Frank is a true professional and will bring years of experience at higher levels of hockey to the 'Core," stated General Manager Henry Lazar.

Bretti arrives at Apple Core with thirteen years of college coaching experience, including ten years at the Division I level. He spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Prior to that, he was the head coach at Iona college for six years. He led the team to two consecutive MAAC Final Four appearances and a championship game, as well as coaching a Hobey Baker Award finalist. Before being named head coach at Iona, he served as an assistant coach at the University of Alaska-Anchorage for three seasons.

Coach Bretti has been involved in the USA Hockey Player Development Program at the both the national and state levels. He served as the head coach of the New York State Select 16 team three times. In addition, he coached at three national camps for USA Hockey. Bretti has been a presenter at the USA Hockey Advanced Coaches Seminar and worked at numerous hockey schools throughout his coaching career.

"I appreciate the opportunity that has been given to me by owner Bob Santini and General Manager Henry Lazar. I am excited to work with them and uphold the great tradition that has been established at New York Apple Core hockey over the years," commented Bretti. "I look forward to developing a structured environment that will maximize our players potential and prepare them for their goals of playing college hockey at the highest level possible. I feel there are great things ahead for our program."

(Nathan can be reached at

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fronts Name Todd Gill as New Coach, Doug Gilmour as GM

Press Release

The Kingston Frontenac Hockey Club today announced Doug Gilmour as the team’s new General Manager and that Todd Gill will be the team’s new Head Coach at a noon hour Media Conference. Darren Keily, who was an Assistant Coach with the organisation over the last three seasons, will continue in the same role will the Club. All three have signed three year contracts.

Larry Mavety will stay on as a Special Advisor with the organisation.

Gill joins the Fronts after five years with the Brockville Braves in the CJHL as its owner and Head Coach. In five seasons with the Tier II Braves, Gill has compiled a record of 198-81-11-11. His best year came last season when he guided the Braves to the eastern Canadian championship on home ice, sending Brockville to the RBC Cup national tournament. Drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2nd round, 25th overall in 1984, Gill played 1,007 NHL games with Toronto, the San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche and the Chicago Blackhawks. A defenceman, Gill had 82 career goals and 272 assists, and 1214 penalty minutes. A graduate of the Ontario Hockey League, Gill played three seasons with the Windsor Spitfires from 1982 to 1985. Both Gilmour and Gill were team mates in Toronto with the Leafs from 1991 to 1996.

(Nathan can be reached at

Mattson Named USHL Defenseman of the Year

Press Release

The United States Hockey League today announced that Indiana Ice defenseman Nick Mattson has been selected as the 2010-11 USHL Defenseman of the Year as determined by a vote of League coaches and general managers.

Mattson totaled 36 points (6g, 30a) in 57 regular season games for the Indiana Ice, ranking second in scoring among USHL defensemen. His 30 assists were second among all League blueliners. He also posted a plus-33 rating which was the third highest mark in the USHL this season. The defenseman was a key piece for Indiana at both ends of the ice as they were the top scoring team in the League (3.95 goals per game) and boasted the most efficient power play unit in the USHL, converting 21.7% of their opportunities.

Mattson, who also served as one of the team's alternate captains, becomes the first player from the Indiana Ice to earn honors as the USHL Defenseman of the Year.

The 19-year-old from Chanhassen, Minnesota was selected to the midseason CCM USHL All-Star Teams. He was one of four players named a USHL All-Star for the second consecutive season.

"Congratulations to Nick not just for being the USHL's top defensemen this year – in a league known for stellar defensive play – but for his consistency, excellence, and leadership throughout a distinguished two-year USHL career," said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince. "He has helped the Indiana Ice become a perennial contender and I suspect we will be watching him frustrate forwards on defense and goalies on offense at both the NCAA and professional levels in coming years."

Mattson collected 19 points (5g, 14) in 51 games during his rookie USHL season in 2009-10. Following that season, he was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round (180th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He will continue his hockey career next season at the University of North Dakota.

(Nathan can be reached at

Hjelle Named USHL Goaltender of the Year

Press Release

The United States Hockey League today announced that Brady Hjelle of the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders has been selected as the 2010-11 USHL Goaltender of the Year as determined by a vote of League coaches and general managers.

Hjelle was an iron man for the RoughRiders appearing in 53 of the team's 60 regular season games and posting a 40-8-5 record. He played nearly 230 minutes more than any other USHL goaltender this season. The 40 wins by Hjelle set a new USHL single season record for wins by a goaltender, surpassing the win total of 36 set by Jeff Lerg of the Omaha Lancers during the 2004-05 season. Hjelle had the fourth best goals-against-average (2.21) in the League and ranked second in save percentage (.923) while making the most saves (1,419) in the USHL.

During his season debut on October 2nd, Hjelle stopped all 19 shots he faced to record a shutout in the 1-0 victory against Waterloo. It was his first of five shutouts during the regular season, tying for second among League goaltenders. He also posted a 7-2 record in shootouts, leading USHL netminders in shootout wins.

The 20-year-old from International Falls, Minnesota won 12 straight starts from February 20th to March 26th. He helped the RoughRiders tie a club record with 42 victories and earn the second Anderson Cup title in team history as they finished the regular season with a League best 42-12-6 record (90 points).

"Brady's season in goal has simply been best-in-show from opening night on," said USHL Commissioner Skip Prince, "and he's been a prime reason for the RoughRiders' Anderson Cup season and progress through the playoffs. Congratulations to a great young man and player are in order – but he's not done yet."

Additional accolades for Hjelle during the season included being named to the midseason USHL All-Star Team and three times being selected as the Reebok USHL Goaltender of the Week.

It was the second USHL season for Hjelle after first playing with the RoughRiders during the 2007-08 season and posting a 22-15-4 record. He will continue his hockey career next season at Ohio State University.

(Nathan can be reached at

USHL Eastern Conference Final Series Schedule

Press Release

The United States Hockey League announced the schedule for the Eastern Conference Final best-of-five series matchup between the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Green Bay Gamblers. Four teams now remain in the 2011 USHL Clark Cup Playoffs.

The Cedar Rapids RoughRiders won their second-round series over the Muskegon Lumberjacks in four games (3-1) while the Green Bay Gamblers swept (3-0) the Indiana Ice to advance to the Eastern Conference Final.

The matchup will feature the clubs that had the two best records during the regular season as the RoughRiders finished with the top mark in the League (42-12-6) to earn the Anderson Cup, and the Gamblers had the second best record overall (41-15-4). They were the only two teams in the USHL to reach the 40-win total. In seven games meetings during the regular season, the Gamblers won four games and each team won just once as the visitor. Four of the seven meetings were decided by a single goal.

The best-of-five series begins on Friday, April 29th in Cedar Rapids. The series winner will advance to the Clark Cup Final against the winner of the Western Conference Final between the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Sioux Falls Stampede.

USHL Clark Cup Playoffs – Eastern Conference Final

Cedar Rapids RoughRiders (#1) vs. Green Bay Gamblers (#2)

Game 1: Friday, April 29th, 7:05 PM – Green Bay @ Cedar Rapids

Game 2: Saturday, April 30th, 7:05 PM – Green Bay @ Cedar Rapids

Game 3: Friday, May 6th, 7:05 PM – Cedar Rapids @ Green Bay

Game 4: Sunday, May 8th, 3:05 PM – Cedar Rapids @ Green Bay**

Game 5: Tuesday, May 10th, 7:05 PM – Green Bay @ Cedar Rapids **

** if necessary

(all times reflect local start time)

(Nathan can be reached at

Veteran Defenseman Headed to Minnesota

Press Release

After three seasons in the United States Hockey League, Waterloo Black Hawks defenseman Blake Thompson has committed to the University of Minnesota for 2011-2012, the team announced Tuesday.

A native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Thompson was a Black Hawk for two years after being acquired in a trade from the Sioux Falls Stampede following the 2008-2009 season. During the three campaigns, Thompson appeared in 170 games, scoring eight goals and 24 assists. He was a USHL All-Star in 2008-2009. Last winter, he enjoyed his best point production with five goals and 18 assists. At the conclusion of the season, he shared the Black Hawks’ Unsung Hero Award with Aaron Pearce by a vote of his teammates. Thompson also earned a share of the organization’s Community Service Award in tandem with C.J. Motte and was selected the Slumberland Furniture Fan’s Choice Player of the Year.

“Blake is a great guy, and he worked hard here, on and off the ice,” said Waterloo Black Hawks Head Coach P.K. O’Handley. “He will be a terrific ambassador for the University of Minnesota, just as he was for the Waterloo Black Hawks.”

Thompson is the 14th Black Hawk from the 2010-2011 team to commit to an NCAA Division I hockey program. Although there were no Waterloo alumni on the Gophers’ roster last season, Black Hawk forwards Justin Kloos and A.J. Michaelson are both committed to the school for the future. Defensemen Zach Palmquist (Minnesota State) and Andrew Panzarella (North Dakota) will also be freshmen in the WCHA skating for rival programs next fall.

(Nathan can be reached at

Ryan Ellis Named Defenceman of the Year

Press Release

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that for the second time in his career Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires is the recipient of the Max Kaminsky Trophy awarded to the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenceman of the Year.

Ellis led all defencemen in scoring and finished tied for fourth overall in the OHL with 101 points in 58 games scoring 24 goals and 77 assists. He became the first defenceman to score 100 points in a season since Jamie Rivers of the Sudbury Wolves recorded 121 points in his award-winning 1993-94 campaign. A three-time finalist, Ellis won the award for the first time in his sophomore 2008-09 season and becomes just the third defenceman in OHL history to win the award twice following Denis Potvin (Ottawa 1972 and 73), and Bryan Berard (Detroit 1995 and 96).

“It’s very exciting for me to win this award for the second time,” said Ellis. “I’d like to thank all those who voted for me and to be named the OHL’s Top Defenceman with so many worthy candidates within our league is an honour and something that means a great deal to me personally.”

Ellis, a 20-year-old from Freelton, ON, set career-high numbers in goals, assists, and points competing in his fourth season with the Spitfires. With 314 points in 226 career games, Ellis became just the third defenceman in OHL history to record 300 career points and trails only Rick Corriveau who recorded 329 points in 260 games with London and Niagara Falls from 1987-92, and Denis Potvin who recorded 330 in 257 games with the Ottawa 67’s from 1967-73 for career points by an OHL defenceman. Ellis also ranks second all-time in Spitfires scoring behind Bill Bowler who produced 467 points in 250 career games.

“I’m not sure where you start with Ryan, he’s been a great ambassador for the Windsor Spitfires during his time with us and he’s competed at every level and on the biggest stages, winning every championship imaginable in junior hockey,” said Spitfires’ Head Coach Bob Jones. “He’s led and represented our team exceptionally well, and in my opinion has been the top player in both the OHL and CHL this season. What Ryan has done for our team and accomplished in the past four seasons is truly remarkable. The Windsor Spitfires are very proud of what he’s accomplished, and he is a very deserving winner of the OHL’s Top Defenceman award this season.”

A Nashville Predators prospect selected in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, 11th overall, Ellis was named the OHL Defenceman of the Month three times (November, January, and February). He was named Best Offensive Defenceman for the third straight year in the Western Conference Coaches Poll, and also finished first in voting in the Smartest Player and Hardest Shot categories. Ellis recorded 30 multi-point games this season including a career-high six-point game with a goal and five assists as first star of a 7-1 win over the Kitchener Rangers on January 28.

The Max Kaminsky Trophy is awarded each year to the Most Outstanding Defenceman as selected by OHL General Managers. Teams were not permitted to vote for their own nominee. Players received five points for a first place vote, three points for a second place vote and one point for a third place vote.

Ellis received an incredible 93 of a maximum 95 points in the voting process ahead of Ryan Murphy of the Kitchener Rangers who finished second with 47 points. Dougie Hamilton of the Niagara IceDogs finished in third place with 15 points.

Darryl Shannon is the only other member of the Spitfires to claim the award winning in 1987-88, with other notable winners including Al MacInnis (Kitchener 1982-83), Chris Pronger (Peterborough 1992-93), Brian Campbell (Ottawa 1998-99), James Wisniewski (Plymouth 2003-04), Marc Staal (Sudbury 2006-07), and Drew Doughty (Guelph 2007-08). Jacob Muzzin of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds won the award last season.

The award is named in recognition of Max Kaminsky, who enjoyed a 10-year professional playing career that included four years in the NHL with Ottawa, Boston, and Montreal. After he retired from playing, Kaminsky enjoyed a 15-year coaching career that was capped by winning the Memorial Cup with the St. Catherine's Teepees in 1960.

Ellis will be formally presented with the Max Kaminsky Trophy at the OHL Awards Ceremony which takes place on Wednesday June 8, 2011, at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. He will also be the OHL’s nominee for CHL Defenceman of the Year.

(Nathan can be reached at

Storm Goalie Diebold Commits to RPI

Press Release

The Tri-City Storm announced that goaltender Scott Diebold has committed to play collegiate hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute beginning in the fall of the 2012.

"As soon as I walked on the (RPI) campus, it felt right to me," said Diebold. "I fell in love with community there at the campus and you couldn't get a better fit with the goaltending coach being the head coach."

Diebold won 10 games for the Storm during his rookie USHL season. Four of his wins came by way of a shutout. At one point during the season, he won four straight starts which included him making a season high 43 saves in the 2-1 win vs. Fargo on December 11th. The 18-year-old from Cheektowaga, New York finished the season with a 2.75 goals-against-average and .913 save percentage.

Four other players from the 2010-11 season are committed to attend RPI; Luke Curadi (Dubuque Fighting Saints), Mark Miller (Omaha Lancers), Ryan Haggerty (Team USA), and Chris Bradley (Youngstown Phantoms).

Diebold is undecided on a major at RPI, but is thrilled with the opportunity to play hockey at a top academic school. "You can't pass up the opportunity to get that kind of education in life."

RPI is located in Troy, New York and is a member of the ECAC hockey conference. Six USHL alumni were on the Engineers roster this past season; Nick Bailen (Indiana Ice), Greg Burgdoerfer (Des Moines Buccaneers), Patrick Cullen (Indiana Ice), Bo Dolan (Tri-City Storm/Sioux Falls Stampede), Jeff Foss (Sioux Falls Stampede), and C.J. Lee (Green Bay Gamblers).

"We are extremely excited for Scott, who put in a lot of hard work this past season for the organization," said Storm Head Coach/General Manager Drew Schoneck. "We are also pleased that he will be back next season and look forward to him continuing to progress between the pipes."

(Nathan can be reached at

USHL Western Conference Final Schedule Set

Press Release

The United States Hockey League announced the schedule for the Western Conference Final best-of-five series matchup between the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Sioux Falls Stampede.

Both clubs earned sweeps of their second-round opponents – Dubuque defeated the Fargo Force in three games, while Sioux Falls knocked off the Omaha Lancers in three games.

Dubuque and Sioux Falls met twice during the regular season. The two games were played in a span of a week in January with the Stampede capturing wins in both contests – a 2-1 overtime victory on January 7th in Sioux Falls and then a 4-1 win on January 14th in Dubuque.

The best-of-five series begins on Friday, April 29th in Dubuque. The series winner will advance to the Clark Cup Final against the winner of the Eastern Conference Final, which has yet to be determined. The Green Bay Gamblers have secured a spot in that series following a 3-0 sweep of the Indiana Ice and now await the winner of the series between the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders and Muskegon Lumberjacks.

USHL Clark Cup Playoffs – Western Conference Final

Dubuque Fighting Saints (#1) vs. Sioux Falls Stampede (#3)

Game 1: Friday, April 29th, 7:00 PM – Sioux Falls @ Dubuque

Game 2: Saturday, April 30th, 7:00 PM – Sioux Falls @ Dubuque

Game 3: Friday, May 6th, 7:05 PM – Dubuque @ Sioux Falls

Game 4: Sunday, May 8th, 6:05 PM – Dubuque @ Sioux Falls**

Game 5: Tuesday, May 10th, 7:00 PM – Sioux Falls @ Dubuque**

** if necessary

(all times reflect local start time)

(Nathan can be reached at

Monday, April 25, 2011

Guillaume Rousseau suspended one game

Press Release

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Disciplinary Prefect, Raymond Bolduc, suspended today Guillaume Rousseau, defenseman with the Quebec Remparts, for one game, for an illegal hit to the head during Friday’s matchup against the Gatineau Olympiques.

The decision was rendered after reviewing the video of the incident, gathering the testimonies from the players and the organizations involved, reading the officials’ report and consulting the independent committee in the matter of disciplinary sanctions.

The Disciplinary Prefect will not be available for further comment.

(Nathan can be reached at

Walchuk contributes in clutch for Vipers, earn POW

Press Release

Vernon Vipers forward Dylan Walchuk has been named the BCHL Player of the Week for the week ending April 24, the league announced Monday.

Walchuk had points in each of the Vipers three road wins over the Spruce Grove Saints last week, helping the Snakes to their third consecutive Doyle Cup and another appearance in the RBC Cup national championships.

The McBride, B.C. product had three goals and an assist in four games including both regulation goals in Thursday's 3-2 overtime win where he was 1st Star. Walchuk was the top point-getter for Vernon in the Doyle Cup totalling four goals and two assists in seven games.

He now has 21 points in the 23 games the Vipers have played in the postseason which leads the team. Walchuk was also the team's leading scorer in the regular season with 24 goals and 32 assists.

This is the second time in the playoffs that Walchuk has earned Player of the Week. He also took the nod for the week ending March 27.

Honourable mentions this week include Vipers netminder Kirby Halcrow (four games, one 1st Star, 1.74 goals-against average, .928 save percentage) and defenceman Adam Thompson (four games, two goals).

(Nathan can be reached at

Bucs Shibrowski Commits to Minnesota

Press Release

he Des Moines Buccaneers announced that goaltender Michael Shibrowski has committed to play collegiate hockey at the University of Minnesota beginning this fall.

Shibrowski appeared in 45 games for Bucs during the USHL regular season and compiled a 21-16-5 with a 2.59 goals-against-average and .912 save percentage. He was fourth among League goaltenders with 1,166 total saves. The 20-year-old also posted four shutouts. It was the first USHL season for the native of Edina, Minnesota.

"His ability speaks for itself, but it is his character that sets him above nearly every other player I've ever coached," said Regg Simon, Des Moines Buccaneers Head Coach/GM. "Michael was a key part of changing the culture in Des Moines this past season. The way he conducted himself and prepared each day is why he was such a good leader for our team."

Shibrowski was selected as the team's Most Valuable Player, while also being honored with the Fan Favorite Award and the Bob McCorkle Award for sportsmanship and dedication.

Thirteen other players who spent the 2010-11 season in the USHL are also committed to the University of Minnesota; Sam Warning (Cedar Rapids RoughRiders), Adam Wilcox (Green Bay Gamblers), Joel Vienneau (Muskegon Lumberjacks), Seth Ambroz (Omaha Lancers), Ben Marshall (Omaha Lancers), Christian Isackson (Sioux Falls Stampede), Kyle Rau (Sioux Falls Stampede), Connor Reilly (Sioux Falls Stampede), Ryan Reilly (Sioux Falls Stampede), Travis Boyd (Team USA), Brady Skjei (Team USA), Justin Kloos (Waterloo Black Hawks), and A.J. Michaelson (Waterloo Black Hawks).

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

CALGARY, AB. - The Western Hockey League announced today that Kootenay Ice forward Cody Eakin is the WHL Player of the Week.

Eakin picked up four points, scoring two goals and two assists to go with a +2 rating in two road games over the last week, helping the Ice to a 2-0 series lead over the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship Series.

On Friday, April 22nd, the Kootenay Ice were in Medicine Hat for the Eastern Conference Championship series opener against the Tigers at The Arena. Eakin scored the OT winner in the first extra frame to lift the Ice to a 6-5 win over the Tigers. The next night, Saturday, April 23rd, Eakin scored the game winning goal, added two assists and was named the games 1st Star as the Ice shut-out the Tigers 3-0.

The Kootenay Ice have a 2-0 series lead over the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Husky WHL Eastern Conference Championship with the series shifting to Cranbrook, BC for games three and four, scheduled for Tuesday, April 26th and Wednesday, April 27th at 7:00pm MT in the Rec Plex.

Eakin, a 19 year old from Winnipeg, MB, joined the Ice at the 2011 WHL Trade Deadline after spending over three seasons with the Swift Current Broncos. The Broncos made him their 1st round (6th overall) selection at the 2006 WHL Bantam Draft and was selected in the 3rd round (85th overall) in the 2009 NHL Draft by the Washington Capitals. Eakin helped Team Canada to a Silver Medal at the 2011 World Junior Championships and was recently named a 2010-11 WHL Eastern Conference Second Team All Star.

The WHL has also nominated Mac Carruth of the Portland Winterhawks for the CHL Goaltender of the Week Award. Carruth posted a 1-1-0-0 record this past week, stopping 75 of 78 shots faced for a 1.51 goals-against average and 0.962 save percentage. Carruth, a native of Shorewood, MN, helped the Winterhawks to a 1-1 series tie this past week in the Kal Tire WHL Western Conference Championship against the Spokane Chiefs.

(Nathan can be reached at

Attack’s Garrett Wilson Named OHL Player of the Week

Press Release

Toronto, ON – The Ontario Hockey League today announced that forward Garrett Wilson of the Owen Sound Attack is the OHL Player of the Week for the week ending April 24. Wilson led the OHL with seven points scoring three goals and four assists in the first three games of the Rogers Western Conference Championship Series.

Wilson was the hero in Game three on Saturday night scoring both the game-tying and game-winning goals to lead the Attack to a 6-4 win over the Windsor Spitfires to take a 2-1 series lead. Both goals came in the final five minutes of play with Wilson also assisting on an empty-net goal to finish with three points as first star of the game. He also picked up an assist despite a 4-2 loss to the Spitfires in Game two on Thursday, and opened the series with a goal and two assists in the 8-1 win in Game one last Tuesday. Game four of the series takes place tonight in Windsor.

Wilson, a 20-year-old from Elmvale, ON, is playing in his fourth OHL season and third full season with the Attack. The Florida Panthers prospect selected in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, scored a career-high 40 goals and 46 assists for 86 points in 66 games this season and currently leads his club in playoff scoring with 15 points in 13 games.

Wilson’s teammate Andrew Shaw was also considered for the award along with Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Carnevale. Shaw scored three goals and two assists for five points in three games, while Carnevale picked up five assists in three games. In goal, JP Anderson of the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors has backstopped his club to a 2-1 series lead over the Niagara IceDogs with a shutout victory and a 1.97 goals-against-average with a .929 save percentage.

(Nathan can be reached at

Oilers agree to terms with Marincin

Press Release

General Manager Steve Tambellini announced today the Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with defenceman Martin Marincin on a three-year entry level contract.

Marincin, 19, finished his first season with the Western Hockey League's Prince George Cougars, appearing in 67 games collecting 56 points (14G, 42A) and 65 penalty minutes. He set new rookie defenceman scoring records for the Cougars in goals, assists and points. The Kosice, Slovakia native finished 8th in scoring from a defenceman in the WHL and 1st among all rookie blueliners.

Marincin, 6’5”, 200-pounds, also notched a goal and four assists and had six penalty minutes in four playoff games for Prince George.

At the end of his WHL season with the Cougars, Marincin was assigned to the American Hockey League's Oklahoma City Barons, where he played one game, collecting two penalty minutes.

Internationally he played for Team Slovakia at the 2010 and 2011 World Junior Hockey Championships, appearing in eight games recording two assists.

Marincin was drafted by the Oilers in the 2nd round (46th overall), in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.

(Nathan can be reached at


Press Release

Calgary, AB - The Western Hockey League today announced the WHL Eastern and Western Conference finalists for the 2010-11 WHL Player of the Year. The two finalists for WHL Player of the Year were determined through voting by General Managers, coaches, broadcast and media representatives of all WHL Member Clubs.

In the WHL's Eastern Conference, which includes the East and Central Divisions, the Player of the Year Nominee is goaltender Darcy Kuemper of the Red Deer Rebels.

Kuemper enjoyed an outstanding season for the Red Deer Rebels, backstopping them to their first Central Division title since the 2003-04 season. The 20-year-old from Saskatoon, SK, appeared in 62 games for the Rebels during the 2010-11 WHL regular season, posting a 45-12-3-2 record as the Rebels finished with 104 points in the standings.

Kuemper led all WHL goaltenders in wins (45), goals-against average (1.86) and save percentage (.933) during the regular season, helping the Rebels to the WHL’s best defensive record. In addition, Kuemper tied a WHL single-season record by posting 13 shutouts. During the regular season, Kuemper maintained a high level of consistency, losing back-to-back decisions on only two occasions. He was named the Vaughn CHL Goaltender of the Week on three different occasions during the regular season – the only goalie in the CHL to win the award three times this year – and was named the Vaughn WHL Goaltender of the Month for January.

Originally selected by the Spokane Chiefs in the 3rd round, 45th overall, of the 2005 WHL Bantam Draft, Kuemper was acquired by the Rebels in 2007 and has played 178 regular-season games for Red Deer over the last three seasons. Kuemper was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in the 6th round, 161st overall, in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

In the WHL's Western Conference, which includes the B.C. and U.S. Divisions, the Player of the Year Nominee is forward Tyler Johnson of the Spokane Chiefs.

Johnson, a 20-year-old from Spokane, WA, starred his hometown Chiefs during the 2010-11 WHL regular season, scoring 53 goals and 62 assists for 115 points in 71 games to lead the Chiefs to a 48-18-4-2 record for 102 points and a second-place finish in the U.S. Division.

Johnson finished first among all WHL players with 53 goals and finished second in the WHL scoring race with 115 points. One of just two players to reach the 50-goal plateau this season, Johnson tied for fifth in the WHL with 17 power play markers, tied for second in the WHL with six shorthanded goals, and tied for 10th among WHL players with seven game-winning goals. A consistent offensive producer for the Chiefs, Johnson recorded at least one point in 57 of the 71 games he played this season. He was named the Husky WHL Player of the Month for December.

Johnson has played four seasons in the WHL, all with his hometown Chiefs, recording 128 goals and 154 assists for 282 points in 266 regular-season games. The 5’9”, 175-lb center, who helped the Chiefs win the 2008 WHL Championship and MasterCard Memorial Cup, was never chosen in the NHL Entry Draft, but signed an entry-level contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning in March 2011.

The recipients of all WHL individual awards will be announced at the 2011 WHL Awards Luncheon, which will be held in Calgary, Alberta, at the Round-Up Centre on Wednesday, May 4, 2011.

2011 WHL Awards Finalists

WHL Player of the Year, Four Broncos Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Darcy Kuemper (Saskatoon, SK), Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference – Tyler Johnson (Spokane, WA), Spokane Chiefs

WHL Rookie of the Year, Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Matt Dumba (Calgary, AB), Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference – Sven Bartschi (Langenthal, SUI), Portland Winterhawks

WHL Goaltender of the Year, Del Wilson Trophy
Eastern Conference – Darcy Kuemper (Saskatoon, SK), Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference – James Reid (Calgary, AB), Spokane Chiefs

WHL Defenceman of the Year, Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Stefan Elliott (North Vancouver, BC), Saskatoon Blades
Western Conference – Tyson Barrie (Victoria, BC), Kelowna Rockets

WHL Most Sportsmanlike Player Award, Brad Hornung Trophy
Eastern Conference – Stefan Elliott (North Vancouver, BC), Saskatoon Blades
Western Conference – Tyler Johnson (Spokane, WA), Spokane Chiefs

WHL Scholastic Player of the Year, Daryl K. (Doc) Seaman Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Adam Lowry (Calgary, AB), Swift Current Broncos
Western Conference – Colin Smith (Edmonton, AB), Kamloops Blazers

WHL Coach of the Year, Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Jesse Wallin, Red Deer Rebels
Western Conference – Don Nachbaur, Spokane Chiefs

WHL Executive of the Year, Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Lorne Molleken, Saskatoon Blades
Western Conference – Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks

WHL Humanitarian of the Year, Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy
Eastern Conference – Spencer Edwards (Coquitlam, BC), Moose Jaw Warriors
Western Conference – Jeff Einhorn (Red Deer, AB), Chilliwack Bruins

WHL Marketing / Communications Award
Eastern Conference – Calgary Hitmen, Mike Moore
Western Conference – Tri-City Americans, Brian Sandy

WHL Regular Season Champions, Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy
Saskatoon Blades: GP – 72 W – 56 L – 13 OTL – 1 SL – 2 Pts – 115

WHL Top Scorer – Bob Clarke Trophy
Linden Vey – (Wakaw, SK) Medicine Hat Tigers
GP – 69 G – 46 A – 70 Pts – 116 PIM - 36

(Nathan can be reached at

Three decisive Game 5s highlight Monday’s schedule

Press Release

The decisive Game 5s of the three remaining divisional finals series of the Robertson Cup Playoffs will be played on Monday night, and with the anticipation comes a number of scenarios that will determine the North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) final two berths to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament, which will be played from May 3-7 in Topeka, Kan.

With the NAHL’s new playoff format this season, if a team other than the Topeka RoadRunners - hosts of the tournament - wins the South Division playoff championship, Topeka and the two divisional playoff champions with the most points during the regular season will advance to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.

The two divisional playoff champions with the fewest points during the regular season will play a best-of-three play-in series with the winner securing the fourth and final berth to the tournament.

Along with the RoadRunners, the Fairbanks Ice Dogs - the West Division playoff champions who totaled 83 points in the regular season, second most among the remaining playoff teams - are guaranteed the second berth to the tournament.

The following Game 5 scenarios will dictate the other two teams who will vie for the Robertson Cup championship, which crowns the NAHL’s playoff champion and USA Hockey’s Tier II Junior A national champion:

- If the RoadRunners win their South Division series over the Amarillo Bulls, the winners of the Central and North Division finals will advance to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament.

- If the St. Louis Bandits (86 points) win their North Division finals series over the Michigan Warriors (76 points), they will advance to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament (highest regular-season point-total of the remaining playoff teams).

- If Amarillo (78 regular-season points) wins its series over Topeka and St. Louis loses its series against Michigan, the Bulls will advance to the Robertson Cup Championship Tournament (highest regular-season point-total among the remaining playoff teams).

- If Amarillo wins its series against Topeka and St. Louis wins its series over Michigan, the Bulls will play in the best-of-three play-in series as the home team against the winner of the Central Division finals (second-lowest point total among the remaining playoff teams).

- If the Coulee Region Chill (71 points) wins its Central Division finals series over the Bismarck Bobcats (67 points), Michigan wins its North series over St. Louis and Amarillo wins its series over Topeka, the Chill will play in the best-of-three play-in series as the visiting team against Michigan (lowest point total among the remaining playoff teams).

- If Bismarck wins its Central Division finals series over Coulee Region, Michigan wins its North series over St. Louis and Amarillo wins its series over Topeka, the Bobcats will play in the best-of-three play-in series as the visiting team against Michigan (lowest point total among the remaining playoff teams).

- If Coulee Region wins its Central Division finals series over Bismarck, St. Louis wins its North series over Michigan and Amarillo wins its South series over Topeka, the Chill will play in the best-of-three play-in series as the visiting team against Amarillo (lowest point total among the remaining playoff teams).

- If Bismarck wins its Central Division finals series over Coulee Region, St. Louis wins its North series over Michigan and Amarillo wins its series over Topeka, the Bobcats will play in the best-of-three play-in series as the visiting team against Amarillo (lowest point total among the remaining playoff teams).

View the Robertson Cup Playoffs Format here.

View the Robertson Cup Playoffs Bracket here.

(Nathan can be reached at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The best things in life are three

Press Release

USA vs. Sweden 4-3 (1-1, 0-2, 2-0, 1-0)

CRIMMITSCHAU – Gold came a little harder for the US this time around.

It took a two-goal comeback in the third period, then overtime to put away a tough Swedish team. But with 13:54 left in the extra period, Team USA’s Connor Murphy fired the game winning shot that gave his team the 4-3 victory and a third consecutive U18 gold medal.

“We had been playing fairly good hockey, but Sweden is a great team and they went up 3-1 on us so we just wanted to make sure the guys didn’t have any regrets in the last twenty minutes,” said USA head coach Ron Rolston. “The guys were obviously down but they fought back just as they have done in the past two years.”

The game put a dramatic end to an immensely successful U18 tournament for hosts Dresden and Crimmitschau. The 2011 edition of the U18s featured a number of great games, punctuated by a thrilling overtime victory by the defending champions in front of a record crowd of 5,007 spectators. In total, over 47,000 people attended this year’s games.

“The fans really embraced this tournament, tonight’s crowd was just unbelievable, and for the kids to be playing in that type of environment is a great experience,” said Rolston.

The score was tied a one apiece at the end of the first period. Sweden notched the first goal of the game when a neutral zone pass was tipped in the air and fell into the U.S. end. The puck landed right on the stick of Swedish forward Filip Forsberg, who promptly fired it through U.S. goaltender John Gibson’s legs for the 1-0 lead.

Though the Swedes were doing a good job keeping the Americans pinned to the boards and limiting their scoring opportunities, the U.S. caught a break late in the period when a penalty was given to Sweden’s William Karlsson for tripping. On the ensuing power play, USA defenceman Jacob Trouba fired a low hard shot from the point to tie the game 1-1 with eight seconds left in the period.

Both teams exchanged scoring chances in the first ten minutes of the second period, but neither was able to solve the other’s goaltender. Sweden’s forwards in particular were doing a good job getting back and defending against the U.S. attack, limiting secondary scoring chances.

Their efforts paid off with 7:39 remaining in the period when the puck came back to the point off a Swedish push into the U.S. zone. Albin Blomkvist lay there waiting, cradled the puck and fired a shot towards the U.S. net. The puck hit a few sticks on the way and was redirected past Gibson for the go-ahead goal.

Minutes later Sweden struck again. Karl Johansson got the puck at the top of the Swedish blue line and fired a beautiful cross-ice pass right on the tape of William Karlsson’s stick. Karlsonn skated into the slot and passed the puck off to Gustav Björklund, who fired it home for the 3-1 lead.

Having never faced a deficit in its last two U18 gold medal games, Team USA took to the ice in the third period down by two goals. They managed to get the first goal early on, when Rocco Grimaldi got the puck in the Swedish zone and made a drop pass to Connor Murphy, who made no mistake with a shot that went straight to the top left corner of goaltender Niklas Lundström’s net.

The U.S. attack then fizzled out through the majority of the period, as the Americans took penalties and failed to capitalize on a pair of power plays. But just when time began to run out on their comeback effort, forward Reid Boucher skated into Sweden’s zone, beat his defender and fired a laser shot that went off the far post and in with 1:29 left.

Regulation time wound down, and the teams took to the ice for a 20 minute four-on-four overtime period. Just over four minutes into the period, Swedish captain Oskar Klefbom was whistled for holding as he tried to stop American forward Rocco Grimaldi from getting to the Swedish net.

Sweden appeared to be in control on the penalty kill, but with less than five seconds remaining on the man advantage to puck came to USA defenceman Connor Murphy in the left faceoff circle. Murphy’s first shot was blocked by a diving Swedish player, but the puck came right back to him for a second chance.

This time Murphy got off a clean slapshot that went straight to the near side of Lundström’s net, going off the crossbar and in, giving the Americans their third straight U18 championship.

“This tournament is so competitive, with such great teams playing here for three weeks it’s a grind,” said Murphy after the game. “We knew that it was the last time that most of us would be playing together and we just wanted to lay it out on the line for each other and win for each other.”

NOTE: Russian Nikita Kucherov, with 18 points in six games, was chosen as the tournament’s top forward. Team Canada defenceman Ryan Murphy was selected best defenceman, and USA goalkeeper John Gibson best goalie.

(Nathan can be reached at

Russians win bronze

Press Release

CRIMMITSCHAU – In another close hockey game between Russia and Canada, it was ironically the Canadian League’s top rookie scorer Nail Yakupov, who sent Canada home without a medal, helping Russia win bronze with a three-goal performance in the 6-4 victory.

Russia vs. Canada 6-4 (1-1, 2-4, 1-1)

Russia got on the scoreboard first midway through the opening period. Nikita Kucherov’s first shot hit a Canadian defender and bounced right back to his stick. Kucherov did not miss on his second chance and shot the puck past Canadian goaltender Andrew D’Agostini, who got his first start of the tournament in the bronze medal game.

Canada responded with a power play goal late in the frame, when Maxim Shuvalov was sent to the box for elbowing. Canadian defender Ryan Murphy wasted no time, firing a blast into the net from the point after teammate Alan Quine won the faceoff.

The game picked up with six goals in the second period. For the Russians it was forward Nail Yakupov who stole the show, scoring off a breakaway to equalize after Canadian Alan Quine scored on the power play. Yakupov added an assist soon after, getting the puck to Vladimir Tkachev in the high slot to put Russia ahead.

Then, with Canada on a power play, Tkachev got the puck in his zone and passed it out to a streaking Yakupov, who outraced the last Canadian defender and fired it through D’Agostini’s legs.

The Russians added another goal with a score from Kucherov on a power play with just under five minutes to go in the period. Canada was finally able to answer back two minutes later, when Ryan Murray’s shot was deflected in front for the team’s third power play goal, bringing the score to 5-3 for Russia heading into the final frame.

After almost coming back from a 4-1 third period deficit in the semi-final, the question on everyone’s mind was whether Canada be able to rally again.

With no score through the first 17 minutes of the third period, the Canadians once again pulled their goalie early down two goals. And as the clock showed 1:40 left to go, Murphy shot the puck on net after a clean faceoff win by the Canadians in the Russian zone. It was deflected in front by forward Brett Ritchie to bring Canada once again within a goal of an improbable comeback.

But it was not to be, as Yakupov was able to get an empty net goal to win the game 6-4 and earn the bronze medal for the Russians. Yakupov (three goals, one assist) and Murphy of Team Canada (one goal, three assists) were voted the game's best players.

(Nathan can be reached at